A forum for discussing what's working -- and what isn't -- in standards and assessments.

I'm mad as **** and I'm not going to take it anymore!

Erika Saunders 6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

I'm not usually one to rant and rave and complain without any solution or silver-cloud (at least usually not often, long or in public). But I've really had it with the test-centered mentality that education has become.

My school has been inundated with mandates, scripted programing, strategies, regional visits -- all in the name of increasing test scores. (Which, by the way, DID increase last year!) We need posters on the wall, student work displayed and in folders, fidelity to scripts, speed in delivery - but not too fast that it leaves anyone behind - but not so slow that your class falls behind the others - but slow down so you teach to mastery - but be sure to do at least one lesson per day.

Now, to top it off, they have just taken out Science and Social Studies so that we can incorporate more direct instructed, scripted Reading and Math. Yes ... that's right ... we now teach ONLY Reading and Math! And two-thirds of it is scripted!

We're becoming "Stepford Teachers". Why do we need intelligent, educated, knowledgeable, experienced professionals when we can have cookie-cutter, mono-toned, amateurs who can read on cue? Silly me for investing all that money in a Master's degree and becoming National Board Certified. I could have saved thousands and just taken a speed-reading course instead.

And to make it even worse, we seem to do nothing about it. Seriously, how many teachers are their in the United States? In your State, District, School? Why aren't we protesting? There are so many more of us who actually TEACH yet, it's the few at the top who are making all of the decisions.

I know times are tough. I know the economy is bad. I know how difficult it is to stick your neck out and risk your own future. (Trust me, many people would be shocked that I'm posting this.) But isn't this worth fighting for? Aren't our children worth fighting for?

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"Stepford teachers"--wonderful metaphor.

There's a movement in the U.S. to strip teachers of their agency. Some of it is rooted in politics, some in economics, and some in the unthinking desperation to solve the education "problem."

Here's the thing though: teachers make terrific organizers. It's their job to educate and motivate. They're fully capable of creating change, and they do--many school success stories start with one or two people deciding that something has to change. Those seed individuals recruit colleagues, explore ways to improve the situation, build a case for the changes, sway the decision makers to their side, and follow-through on the implementation.

It's a lot of time and work, but the investment pays off in happier students AND teachers. After all, no one becomes a teacher to be a robot.

My question is "Does anyone have any good resource ideas for how to champion change at their school?" There have got to be resources out there that will help people manage the change process without risking their jobs.

11th and 12th grade English teacher from Shepherd, Montana

[quote]As a Canadian teacher

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[quote]As a Canadian teacher in North Vancouver I have been following recent proposed initiatives by President Obama to improve student learning. Standardized testing, in my opinion, is not the solution to improve student performance. There is definitely a place for this type of testing if a school or school district wishes to get a general overall picture of student performance and then use this data to implement new curriculum initiatives; however, standardized testing stifles student creativity. We need to prepare our students for the 21st century. That being said, student inquiry and project based learning will enable students to acquire the skills needed to ensure their academic success in this ever increasing competitive world.[/quote]

Blaming one President for the misinformation of bureaucrats is foolhardy.

English 10 Teacher, CA High School Exit Exam ELA Teacher, News Production

Dear Ms. Erika Saunders: I

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Dear Ms. Erika Saunders:

I applaud you for your post.

I want to know why legislatures and federal law makers are not concerned about developing free-thinking critical thinkers! What is going on?

I have been on contract eight years in a southern California school district (an hour east of L.A.) and teaching (subbing and reading programs) since the fall of 2002.

In my graduate program in the fall of 2007, (University of Redlands) I had a professor of "Equity in Education" who explained that standardized testing was developed more than 100 years ago to separate and exclude the minority groups from the majority. While this infuriated me, I was unable to find substantial proof of this; however, this outraged me enough to see how standardized testing is, as you put it, "cookie-cutter, mono-toned, amateurs who can read on cue."

And, as statistics show, since No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in the U.S. has not proved 100 percent of students measured as "proficient" in nearly every single school, why aren't we vocal in demanding a change, as you put it?

Learning and success isn't measured in a test score, but in proving learning through tasks and problem-based scenarios. Why can't we have an assessment of learning through a test, a project, and a writing sample, for example?

Let's figure out why we don't have actual educators' input in law-makers' offices and have measurable and proven examples in the hands of legislatures before they impose and enact laws which affect our kids in the classroom.

Why can't we look at it from this perspective? There are so many flaws in the way it works now....

It is a shame that education is so reactionary. We, as educators, need to say that laws simply won't make an affect-there is much more to it than a simple, and flawed, law.

We need to have power back to the teachers to teach the important essentials to make the future of today.

You are not alone in your outrage. So many of us are.

Hang in there and do what is right-even if that means incorporating a little social studies and science in your math and English lessons!

I train educators to use a coaching approach in their teaching practice

Kudos, Erica Sauders Kudos,

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Kudos, Erica Sauders

Kudos, for pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes.

Scripted lessons? What a silly idea, unless you are making a film of course. But why ask so many teachers to follow the same script, with different students? What does that say about the people handing out the scripts?

And why didn't teachers say "NOOOOOO", and pass the scripts back to where they came from?

The bigger question is "What are you prepared to give up, in order to get what you want?". If it is right for you to take on this political discussion, then you may have to give up something in order to do that. Or there may be other channels, aside from Edutopia.

Many discussions on Edutopias website focus on "HOW TO DO A BETTER JOB", and less is said about "WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?"

So, thanks again Erica, for saying what needed to be said.
If you want to speak to a broader audience, Erica, contact me.

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